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Posted on 02-25-2015

Most pet owners are sensible enough to go to a vet if their cat or dog is hit by a car, infested with fleas or can’t shake a nagging cough. However, these are not the most common clinical conditions observed in household pets. Periodontal disease is the most common condition, affecting over 70% of adult cats and 85% of adult dogs. The disease causes inflammation in the tooth's deep supporting structures, leading to tissue damage if gone untreated. Periodontal disease is completely preventable by becoming educated on how the development occurs. A multitude of options exist to prevent the development of this serious condition.

                Periodontal disease includes gingivitis and periodontitis, loss of bone and soft tissue around the teeth. Periodontal disease begins with the accumulation of plaque and calculus(tartar) on the teeth, resulting in gingivitis.  This is also known as stage 1 (early gingivitis).  The gums start to redden … but…at this point the  effects are completely reversible!   At stage 2 (advanced gingivitis) the tooth is 25% detached and the beginning of periodontitis. The tissues and bone are moving away from the infection caused by plaque and calculus moving down to the root of the tooth. The tooth will become discolored to a yellow brown around the gums.  At stage 3, the bone is 25-50% detached and has formed a pocket around the tooth in the gums. The pockets develop from the calculus build up and has separated the tooth from the gums. Once stage 4 hits, the tooth is over 50% detached from surrounding bone and tissue and has a sizable pocket. At this stage there is a good possibility your pet has lost the tooth. If not, the gums are critically inflamed with lots of plaque and calculus built up on the tooth. Curing stages one though four requires professional dental cleaning. The veterinarian will removed plaque and calculus from above and below the gum line. Stages three and four consist of cleaning the tooth and usually a treatment. The veterinarian will choose a treatment depending on the advancement of the disease, the pet’s overall health and other factors.

                Remember animals cannot tell you what is wrong, so noticing signs of unusual behavior is important. Signs your pet may be experiencing periodontal disease are: bad breath, pawing at mouth, sensitive gums, loose or missing teeth, change in diet, difficulty chewing, excessive drooling, and irritability. I happen to think hard kibbles are slightly better than canned foods at keeping plaque from accumulating on the teeth. Dogs that chew on various toys or edible dental chews may remove some of the plaque build-up. Bored dogs will begin to chew on objects, such as rocks, potentially fracturing or cracking their teeth. Plaque settles in fractures and cracks, speeding up the development of periodontal disease. Smaller dogs have a greater risk because teeth are crowded together. Regular brushing of your pet's teeth can greatly reduce the accumulation of plaque and development of tartar, thus reducing the risk of periodontal disease. Beginning the habit of brushing teeth at a younger age helps establish the brushing routine in life.        For information regarding recommended oral health food visit this site: http://www.hillspet.com/products/pd-canine-td-canine-dental-health-dry.html

                Knowing how periodontal disease forms on the teeth, recognizing the signs, and taking steps to prevent the development of plaque buildup on teeth should protect your pet’s mouth and overall health.  Periodontal disease is preventable, but it starts with you….

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